A New Zealand man who kept his daughter as a sex slave for 23 years is set to be released from prison despite a finding from the NZ Parole Board that he remains an undue risk to community safety.
Ronald Van der Plaat, 82, was sentenced to 14 years in prison in 2000 for the horrific abuse that he subjected his daughter to between the ages of nine and 32, including putting her head in a padlocked box while he raped her.
The sentencing judge described Van der Plaat’s offending as at “the very upper level of seriousness in terms of cases of sustained abuse to come before the court,” and that “it was not ordinary sexual abuse but was bizarre in the extreme and can only be described as depraved.”
Van der Plaat was previously released on parole in 2010, but was jailed again in 2012 after committing further offences, including “making an intimate visual recording” according to a parole hearing in February.
By law, he must be released on his statutory release date of 11 May 2016, however the parole board has declined a request for his release before this date, noting that the most recent psychological assessment of Van der Plaat found that he had a medium-high risk of reoffending.
“The psychological report says that the most likely target for Mr Van der Plaat will be vulnerable solo mothers, most likely non-European immigrants, and that he will groom their trust through offering financial, material, practical and emotional support,” the board said.
“Future victims are likely to be their female children with Mr Van der Plaat assuming some form of caregiver role.”
It was also noted that he has continually denied committing the offences, meaning that he had not been eligible to participate in any intensive offence-focussed rehabilitation.
Van der Plaat’s daughter, Tanjas Darke, waived her right to anonymity and gave an interview to New Zealand’s New Idea magazine in 2010 ahead of his parole release, which lasted only two years.
“He made attempts to find me many times in the past, and I’ve had to move in a hurry on several occasions,” she said.
“It’s better to safeguard my whereabouts. I never inform anyone where I’m going or what I’m doing. I just go and arrive.”
Prior to his arrest, Van der Plaat was considered an intelligent, educated and polite man, working as a Lifeline counsellor and a master in Pacific Island artefacts, appearing several times on NZ television.
“It’s only when he is around someone all the time, where the possibility for control is in place, that issue can arise,” Darke said.
“Is he going to cruise by a school and drag a kid off the road? I don’t think that would happen. He’s a sexual deviant in a different light.”
Upon his release in May, Van der Plaat will be subject to GPS monitoring however the Community Probation Service said that while it will assist in determining where he is spending his time, it will not indicate who he is spending time with.